March 1, 2008
Nicholas Carr (former exec editor of the Harvard Business Review) has just posted a rumour on his blog that Microsoft may be planning to announce a move to push it’s applications into the cloud. It’s something that’s been expected but there hasn’t been any rumours that it’s impending for ages. Moving to web access for apps is a natural thing for Microsoft to do soon and could be huge!
Nicholas is highly respected (I’ve been a fan of his FT and Guardian articles for ages) and even if the rumour isn’t true it most likely does mean some kind of announcement is coming soon.
February 21, 2008
Amazing news today that Microsoft are set to provide software blueprints on their website and promise not to sue developers who make use of them (for non-commercial purposes).
Have Microsoft grown up and realised that a closed environment is not the best for fostering innovation, something which Microsoft used to have in heaps but seems lacking lately?
Really good news for those working on online office solutions as interoperability should be much easier to proved. And great news for users as this could open up many opportunities to make software more accessible and open to all.
February 15, 2008
News here from ZDNet that some of the largest online travel agencies in the U.S. may shift their focus abroad in order to keep growing their business. Chief execs at Priceline, Orbitz and Expedia all said at a summit this week that they would be focusing on emerging markets in an aim to capture as much of those markets as possible.
Asia-Pacific seems to be the particular focus but there is still work to be done in Europe by some of these large players. Orbitz, Priceline and others such as Travelocity do not have the profile in Europe that Expedia have built up. I’d expect to see some more aggressive tactics over here from companies like them.
This could make it an even tougher year from domestic players especially with the economic climate in the U.S If the Americans stop spending I’d expect them to put their efforts into regions which are not so economically challenged.
February 13, 2008
Reuters have been holding a Travel & Leisure Summit in Los Angeles and this was one of the topics of conversation. The main answer seemed to be that deals will be key!
While consumers may tighten their belts, hoteliers may give better rates to online travel agencies as they will be more eager to fill their rooms. This should really benefit the large online agents such as Priceline, Expedia, Orbitz etc.
While a recession could erode demand generally it can also have the opposite effect in the activity of bargain and deal hunters as more people hunt for something affordable. This could benefit not just the big players but also the price comparison websites as they have access to so many rates they are the obvious place for any bargain hunter to start their search.
Another factor of economic weakness could be airlines who cannot fill all their seats, this should push them to offload unsold stock to online travel agents and may mean that there are some better deals than usual available.
Of course this is all conjecture, at the moment we have no idea how bad an economic downturn could get (wait for the commercial property market to show it’s weakness) or how long it could last.
My tip for this year is price comparison websites. They are positioned well as far as price goes for a year of weaker demand and this has to be the year that they finally improve their user experience to a point where they are so easy to find deals that they start to erode market share of slower moving websites (remember, a lot of price comparison sites are technology companies rather than travel). Looking forward to seeing how Kayak, Mobissimo, Travel Supermarket etc get on in this economic climate!
February 12, 2008
Interestingly though, while Google grew by 40% year on year in Q4 that was down on their growth a year earlier. That made their market share slip by 0.5%, but they do still own over 23% of the market. Something to do with the coming saturation of search marketing perhaps?
IDC says a merged Microsoft-Yahoo would command 17% of the U.S. online ad market, so still not enough to topple Google from the top spot.
One wonders if the figures for Google include DoubleClick yet??
February 8, 2008
Ok, this isn’t really a political post at all, rather it’s about a new suite of online image editing tools called Aviary. They’ve put a great screen cast on YouTube showing just how cool their suite of tools is. This is impressive stuff for an online tool, how long till we can all ditch our bloatware and move to these online tools?
Looking through the rest of their product blog this is going to be very cool indeed!
And it’s not just images; they have a whole suite of tools from images, to video and even audio related.
February 5, 2008
PhocusWright has released it’s 2008 Travel Trends report which looks at some of the developments in the marketplace that it expects to dominate the year. There’s a brief overview here.
In short they expect:
- Mobile to grow (no massive surprise there, it’s been coming for years but travel has been very slow on the uptake)
- Consolidation in the industry to continue (again a safe bet, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of the mergers, however this year I expect to see online only concerns looking at mergers to stimulate growth and increase market share)
- Social and e-commerce approaches to converge (strange one this, I know there’s a lot of social experiments that are totally unconnected to a companies e-commerce facility but this will continue as players find their feet in the social waters. Any decent foray into social should always have an e-commerce edge anyway, even the most brand focused campaign should be aiming to drive bookers at the end of the day)
- Metasearch to come of age (this could be the biggy! I’m waiting for Kayak or someone like that to launch fully dynamic packaging through metasearch, that could be a clincher that sees off the competition. I also expect tour operators to move towards a more metasearch model online by supplementing their product through GDS’)
- Media-based pricing (interesting move from Expedia earlier this year that has triggered this one, will certainly be interesting to see if others move this way, especially those with their own stock as price flexing to match their media spend will be more difficult)
I think they’ve missed one big thing that we will begin to see on travel websites and that’s intelligent or guided search. My number one complaint is the lack of relevance in cross/upsell offerings that are pushed at you during an e-commerce process. The rise of tagging and meta data on products will help push this forwards (as well as the rise in technologies that provide this kind of functionality). Another interesting area to watch will be semantic web, expect to see a travel site of some sort try to get this right this year. Interesting year ahead!
January 17, 2008
ComScore have released figures for the biggest U.S. web properties for December. MarketingCharts have the detail here. Obviously, retail is the big show, and as usual Yahoo just pip Google, even though they have many more pages. Google should overtake them soon.
Travel shows with Expedia in 41st place. January should be a very different story as travel sites shoot up the rankings.
Full list of the top 50 below:
January 15, 2008
IMRG the online retail analyst is to release a report stating that it is critical that retailers invest in online as more of the UK population shift to making their purchases through the web. They say that retailers who refuse to move online risk losing half their business over the next ten years as they estimate that 50% of all retail will be online by 2018.
Growth of the online retail channel outstripped all other channels in the run up to Christmas and the volume of shopping online in 2007 was up over 50% on the previous year. This kind of growth is expected to continue (although slowing gradually).
I believe this will apply to travel even more quickly than retail. The shift to online is happening much more quickly and it’s possible that half of all travel bookings could be online within the next two years in the UK. The U.S. is already there according to the report here. Investing now will put you in a good position to capitalise on that growth. It’s especially important for any travel companies who don’t have a web presence yet (there really are some who don’t still) as they really need to get their brand known online and get their online marketing processes in place asap.